I had big ears as a child—great big, stick-outie ears. My kindergarten picture shows an enthusiastic five-year-old with the biggest ears in the class. Those ears were a source of misery for me through eighth grade and then I forgot about them. Since I began writing fiction, they have served me well. In an earlier blog, (You Will Never Be Bored If You’re a Writer May 12, 2014) I wrote about how everywhere I turn, there’s material. Here are a few overheard snippets I have either used or intend to use as a basis for a story or as a scene within a larger story.

Overheard at Peet’s Coffee House, Berkeley, CA, 1981
“It just takes the right combination of drugs.”

Outside a Hartford jazz club, 2000
Nerdy-looking man in line is putting moves on the woman standing between him and me. He’s chatting her up about music, the guitar, etc. Woman #2 comes out of the club and walks toward him very quickly. She takes his arm and turns him away from Woman #1, keeps her back to #1 the entire time she whispers emphatically in the man’s ear. Woman #1 ignores the whole scene and calls her child on her cell phone. Woman #2 begins crying while man berates her for her jealousy. He tells her that he “won’t tolerate it.”

St. Joseph’s Hospital, Stockton, California, August 2012
My mother has Stage IV lung cancer. She is having radiation treatments and I am in the waiting room. The speakers are playing “Lullabye and good night.”

Hartford, CT, October 2012
The Hartford Courant includes the obituary of an elderly French Canadian woman who was married for 52 years and lived on a farm. The obit added that, “She enjoyed gardening, laundry and peeling potatoes.”

On the Jazz Cruise, Caribbean, 2014  A man in the deck chair next to mine says to wife: “I don’t give a fuck what it is. I’m not co-dependent like you are.” She responds, “All right.”

I wonder what kind of relationship yields her response. THAT is the stuff of a good story.



About Alexis

Alexis Rankin Popik, author of Kiss Me Over the Garden Gate, is an award-winning short story writer whose work has appeared in The Berkshire Review and Potpourri Magazine. She has penned numerous articles about local history that have been published in Connecticut Explored and the University of Connecticut School of Law and The Hartford Seminary publications. A former union organizer, Popik traveled the country educating shipyard workers about health and safety and founded a labor-management health plan before turning to writing fiction full-time. She lives with her husband in New England.
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